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eSnipe FAQ

Introducing eSnipe

  1. What does eSnipe do?
  2. How much does eSnipe cost?
  3. Why would I want to snipe? 
  4. What are the risks of sniping?
  5. Why do you require my eBay password?
  6. Don't sellers hate eSnipe?
  7. Where can I find more information?
  8. Is there an eSnipe Tutorial?
  9. Why not use a utility on my home computer to snipe?
  10. I bought a new computer. How do I get eSnipe to work on it?
  11. What happens if two eSnipe users bid on the same item?
  12. Does eSnipe work with Mature Audiences auctions?
  13. Can I bid using non-U.S. currency auctions?
  14. Do I have to leave my computer on for eSnipe to place a bid?
  15. What does eSnipe do with personal information?
  16. I have multiple eBay accounts. Can I use them all with eSnipe?

BidPoints

  1. What are BidPoints(SM)?
  2. eSnipe BidPoints Help Pages

Using eSnipe

  1. What is the ideal buffer time?
  2. Will eSnipe guarantee that my bids are placed?
  3. Can eSnipe place bids at other auction sites?
  4. What if I place one bid using eBay by hand, and another one using eSnipe? Will eSnipe "trump" me and make me outbid myself?
  5. Can I outbid myself?
  6. Why didn't my bid go through?
  7. Why don't you show the current price of the item on eBay so I can know if I need to increase my bidding amount?
  8. What are Bid Groups?

How Do I...

  1. How do I delete/cancel a bid?
  2. How do I change a bid?
  3. How do I change my eBay password or username?
  4. How do I change my email address?
  5. How do I use multiple eBay accounts with eSnipe?

Rovatron

  1. What is Rovatron?
  2. 'I lost an auction. Rovatron told me "bid not high enough", why does eBay history page not show my bid?
  3. You said "Bid was not high enough" but it was higher than the bid that won! Why didn't Rovatron place my bid?

eSnipe Servers

  1. What happens to my bid if the eSnipe Web server goes down?
  2. How do you ensure that your clock is synchronized with eBay's? After all, we're only talking a few seconds here. What if your clock is 7 seconds slower than eBay's and my snipe time is 5 seconds?

Introducing eSnipe

What does eSnipe do?

eSnipe places bids on eBay just a few seconds before auction close. Instead of placing your bids directly with eBay, you place them through eSnipe. Our site stores the information you submit until a few seconds before the end of the auction you are interested in. At that point, Rovatron places a bid with eBay on your behalf. This final bidding process works exactly the same way as if you placed the bid manually, so all eBay bidding rules apply - including proxy bidding. The end result is your bids being placed with eBay at the last possible moment - this is called sniping, and eSnipe can do this better than any other website or utility.

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How much does eSnipe cost??

eSnipe is free to new users for limited time. After the trial period, eSnipe only charges if you win an auction, even if you lost because your bid was too low. When you do win the cost is 25 cents for items up to US$24.99, 1% of the winning amount for items up to US$1,000 (rounded down to the nearest penny), and a maximum of $10 thereafter. So if you win an item for $47, the fee is 47 cents. If you win an item for $230.58, the fee is $2.30. eSnipe fees are in BidPoints, which you can buy in quantity for discounts. For more details, please visit our BidPoints Official Rules page.

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Why would I want to snipe?

To save money and time. eSnipe reduces bidding wars by masking interest in auction items until the last possible moment. Because auctions on eBay take three to 10 days to close, emotional overbidding can start soon after the auction opens and last until the auction closes, instead of mere minutes as is the case in traditional offline or "outcry" auctions.
  • eSnipe is popular among buyers of collectibles, who treasure the anonymity it brings them. News travels among collectors, who prefer to avoid triggering public interest in an item by bidding on it too early.
  • Another group that uses eSnipe heavily is buyers outside the continental U.S., who like not having to stay up to the middle of the night just to place a bid.
  • A final group likes eSnipe because it allows bids to be "canceled" until 5 minutes before the auction close, whereas eBay's terms of agreement treat any bid placement as a contract to buy. Putting off actual bid placement until the last few seconds gives users a much longer time to change their minds.

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What are the risks of sniping?

Both eBay and eSnipe are reliable services, but extraordinary situations do occur. It's important that you understand the risks of sniping:
  • The eSnipe servers could malfunction.
  • The eBay servers could malfunction.
  • Your bid could be lost due to a programming or maintenance error on eSnipe's part.

You must assume the worst-case scenario, that, as on eBay, once you place a bid, you cannot retract or edit it. Normally of course, this is not the case, and you can safely edit or cancel a bid within 5 minutes of the snipe time. eSnipe's servers are exceptionally reliable and well-maintained, but no one can promise 100% reliability on the Internet. Remember that because your bid is placed just a few seconds before the close of the auction, there are many errors you only discover after the auction is over. For example:

  • If you changed your password on eBay but forgot to change it on eSnipe, eSnipe would be unable to place the bid in time.
  • The eSnipe servers could malfunction while you were trying to edit or delete a bid.
  • eSnipe's servers prepare the bid 5 minutes in advance of your snipe time, so if you tried to edit the bid after that time the edit may fail.
  • eBay's servers could slow down. If their servers were 5 seconds slow and you had a 3 second snipe, your bid won't get placed. Nor would it get placed if you were manually sniping under these same conditions.
  • eBay's servers sometimes stop working, or are rebooted right at the time an auction closes. Since the servers that accept bids are not the same ones that display auctions, sometimes it looks like eBay should be able to take a bid when in fact it cannot.

Risks are also discussed in our Member terms page as well as in the eSnipe Tutorial.

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Why do you require my eBay password?

When Rovatron places a bid on eBay, it does so on your behalf. The bid is placed with your user ID and password, just as if you were placing the bid yourself. Your eBay bidding ID and password listed on eSnipe must match the ones you use on eBay exactly, or eBay will reject your bids.

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Don't sellers hate eSnipe?

Smart sellers understand that while eSnipe may keep the prices of individual items down, it increases the pool of potential buyers. Snipers spend a lot of money: millions of dollars per month using eSnipe alone. They are usually highly motivated but would rather stay out of an auction than get caught up in a bidding war. This allows them to keep the price reasonable and buy the item, rather than wait for another auction.

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Where can I find more information?

For information on membership terms. If you would like to know about eSnipe and your privacy, see our privacy policy. Our help page contains information about the site, how to join, and the login process. You may also wish to take a look at the eSnipe Tutorial.

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Is there an eSnipe Tutorial?

Yes, we have prepared an excellent tutorial in addition to the eSnipe help pages.

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Why not use a utility on my home computer to snipe?

Many reasons:
  • Most home computers have comparatively slow and unreliable connections to the Internet.
  • If the auction closes in the middle of the night, you have to remember to leave your computer on.
  • You might absent-mindedly turn off your computer, or it might crash when you're not around.
  • If you're using another program or downloading a file in the background it may slow down your Internet connection.
  • eSnipe's servers are optimized to place bids reliably and quickly. They run on very high speed servers with high-bandwidth connections to the Internet. Having your bids on our server also means you can check their status at work and home too. Not that you'd be using eSnipe from work, of course.

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I bought a new computer. How do I get eSnipe to work on it?

eSnipe is accessible from almost any computer you can access, just login at left of our home page. You may be used to using SnipeIt!, a convience tool to make eSnipe easier. However, SnipeIt! is not required to use eSnipe. SnipeIt! is the utility that lets you snipe right from within an auction by clicking a button on your toolbar. To learn how to install visit the SnipeIt! page.

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What happens if two eSnipe users bid on the same item?

Remember that proxy bidding rules favor the highest bidder, which trumps bidding at whatever time, sniped or not. So what you're really asking is "what if multiple eSnipe users bid the exact same amount on the same item with the exact same buffer time"? (If it helps you, we've only observed this a couple times in the last million or so bids.)

The answer: it's undefined -- just whichever user's bid is retrieved from our database first. eSnipe makes no attempt to arbitrate among eSnipe users sniping on the same item. Any such attempt would result in a privacy breach, since eSnipe promises not to disclose your individual bids to a third party.

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Does eSnipe work with Mature Audiences auctions?

Not at this time. Because eBay must validate your age to bid on these items, there are technical complications to the bidding process. If this feature is important to you, please e-mail Support@eSnipe.com to let us know you want this feature so that we can help prioritize it based on demand.

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Can I bid using non-U.S. currency auctions?

eSnipe uses whatever currency the auction uses. Don't use extra characters such as "EU" or "€" for the Euro, for example. To continue that example, you would enter one of the following for 100 Euro:

100 or 100.00

As with all bid entry on eSnipe, you should only use a period to mark fractional amounts, and not include a comma.

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Do I have to leave my computer on for eSnipe to place a bid?

No, you don't have to leave your computer on for eSnipe to place bids for you. That's the whole reason you place your bid with us-we do it on our servers. There are many reasons your computer might not be able to place the bid-you accidentally leave it off; other applications slow it down; a power failure knocks it out; and so on. Rovatron, on the other hand, is extremely reliable and has nothing else to do but place bids. eSnipe has many computers running 24 hours a day placing bids for you. Save some energy. Avoid a rolling blackout, if you're in California. Turn off your computer and let us do the work for you!

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What does eSnipe do with personal information?

We will occasionally email you with eSnipe news. Your personal information is never provided for sales or advertising purposes to any vendor, market or other third party. If you owe money to eSnipe and we're unable to collect it, we may need to give your contact information to a third party for collection purposes.

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I have multiple eBay accounts. Can I use them all with eSnipe?

Yes you can. Adding additional eBay bidding ID's is pretty easy. Simply log on to your eSnipe account. Then click on "My Settings", in the left menu listing. On this page you will click the "Auction Accounts" tab. Next page, click on "Add a new bidding account". Enter your eBay bidding ID and it's password. Make sure that these match your eBay account information EXACTLY, or eBay will reject your bids. Once you are sure you have entered this correctly, click again on "Add new bidding account".

Now, when you place a bid, you will see a drop down option for the bidding ID. Make sure the one you want to register your bid under on eBay is showing in the window.

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BidPoints

What are BidPoints(SM)?

BidPoints are a cost-saving way of paying for eSnipe services at 1% of the winning auction price or less. You can learn more about them by clicking Fees, or reading the BidPoints FAQ.

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Using eSnipe

What is the ideal buffer time?

The buffer time specifies the number of seconds before the end of the auction that eSnipe is to attempt to place the bid. Our tests show the ideal buffer time to be about 4 to 8 seconds. Although we don't recommend it, we have seen many auctions won with a 2 or 3 second buffer time. The smaller your buffer time, the more likely you are to miss the end of the auction. The larger your buffer time, the more likely you bid will be placed, but you also stand a better chance of being out sniped. If you are concerned about eBay being slow during a very important auction, we recommend 10 seconds to play it safe.

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Will eSnipe guarantee that my bids are placed?

eSnipe can't guarantee a bid will be placed. The reason is simple: eSnipe can't control the rest of the Web. What if eBay servers are down when your bid is supposed to be placed? What if either eSnipe or eBay is a victim of a denial of service attack? Even network traffic can cause bids to be lost. But you're never charged for a missed bid.

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Can eSnipe place bids at other auction sites?

Currently eSnipe can place bids on eBay and Yahoo.  While eBay bids are fully supported by eSnipe, Yahoo Auctions support is in a "testing phase". If you are interested in placing bids on Yahoo, please contact eSnipe support for more details.

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What if I place one bid using eBay by hand, and another one using eSnipe? Will eSnipe "trump" me and make me outbid myself?

No. It's no different than if you used eBay for both bids, and eBay won't let you outbid yourself. See "Can I outbid myself" for an explanation.

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Can I outbid myself?

No, you will not outbid yourself using eSnipe. That's because eSnipe doesn't determine what the bid should be. eBay does, through its proxy bidding mechanism. All eSnipe does is place the bid exactly as you would, using your user ID and password, and eBay's proxy bidding automatically keeps your bid as low as necessary to win the auction.

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Why didn't my bid go through?

The first thing to check when you have failed to win an auction is the Rovatron execution e-mail. The Rovatron e-mail will contain details specific to the bid result. If you are concerned about eSnipe having system problems, review the eSnipe ServerStatus page. If you still have questions, it is important that you go to your My Auctions page and use the Info link to request support. The support link on your Info page will tell the eSnipe support staff which bid you want assistance with and can provide a more detailed answer to your question.

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Why don't you show the current price of the item on eBay so I can know if I need to increase my bidding amount?

Including the current price in the My Bids section sounds good, but it poses some surprising problems. The most important is that our servers would have to check eBay's servers hundreds of thousands of times a day, with no benefit to eBay. Another problem is that not even all of eBay's servers can keep prices current. For example, if you search for an item, then click that item from the search results, you'll often see a higher price. There's a lag time between eBay's servers maintaining this information. So eSnipe would suffer the same problem. eSnipe prefers that you use eBay as much as possible, so we include the link to each item, allowing you to check the current price quickly and easily. It's better for eBay (you're likely to see their ads and announcements that way), better for eSnipe (we don't anger them too much by polling their servers constantly), and, I think, better for you (you can go straight to the source and get the most up-to-date price).

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What are Bid Groups?

Bid Groups allow you to combine multiple bids into one group and automatically cancel the remaining bids after the first one wins, saving you both time and money. Learn more in our Bid Group tutorial.

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How Do I...

How do I delete/cancel a bid?

You can cancel bid placement easily up until 5 minutes before the auction is to be sniped:

  1. First log in on the home page. You are automatically taken to My Auctions page.
  2. Use the Info link to the right of the Description column.
  3. On the Info page, at the top there is a "Delete" link to remove your bid.

There is also a way to cancel several bids at once: click the select checkbox on the left side of the My Auctions page, then press the Delete button at the bottom. But be careful--there's no way to "undelete" these items.

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How do I change a bid?

You can edit a bid easily up until 5 minutes before the auction is to be sniped. If you change your mind completely, you can delete it. Here are step-by-step instructions.

  1. First log in on the home page. You are automatically taken to My Auctions page.
  2. Use the Info link to the right of the Description column.
  3. To change a bid--for example, increase its amount, click the Edit link.
Most common edits are to increase your bid.

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How do I change my eBay password or username?

  1. First log in on the home page.
  2. Once logged in, you can change your password, email name, or other preset values (such as the buffer time) by clicking My Settings on the left menu.

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How do I change my email address?

  1. First log in on the home page.
  2. Once logged in, you can change your password, email name, or other preset values (such as the buffer time) by clicking My Settings on the left menu.

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How do I use multiple eBay accounts with eSnipe?

Adding additional eBay bidding ID's is pretty easy. Simply log on to your eSnipe account. Then click on "My Settings", in the left menu listing. On this page you will click the "Auction Accounts" tab. Next page, click on "Add a new bidding account". Enter your eBay bidding ID and it's password. Make sure that these match your eBay account information EXACTLY, or eBay will reject your bids. Once you are sure you have entered this correctly, click again on "Add new bidding account".

Now, when you place a bid, you will see a drop down option for the bidding ID. Make sure the one you want to register your bid under on eBay is showing in the window.

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Rovatron

What is Rovatron?

Rovatron(sm) is the name of our service for placing bids on eBay at the time you specify, checking the status of the bid, and emailing you with the results. The Rovatron service uses proprietary eSnipe technology including a group of custom programs running on multiple high-performance servers to deal with slow server performance, eSnipe and eBay network bottlenecks, peak bid placement periods, and the many other real-time performance issues that threaten the integrity of your bid. The Rovatron service uses software that is constantly being tuned and improved to distribute its load over multiple processes on multiple computers, running on multiple Internet backbones, on several different databases.

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I lost an auction. Rovatron told me "bid not high enough", why does eBay history page not show my bid?

If your bid is not higher than the current bid, your bid is not accepted by eBay and will not show up on the auction history. These are eBay rules.

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You said "Bid was not high enough" but it was higher than the bid that won! Why didn't Rovatron place my bid?

You have been bitten by the notorious "minimum increment" problem, in which the amount extra you bid wasn't enough to win the bid because the increment between the two is higher than your extra amount.

eBay has a table showing the minimum increments in US$ here.

In detail: The minimum increment is the smallest amount you must add to the current winning bid to become the winner yourself. It ranges from $.05 to $100, depending on the bid amount. It increases as the bid price increases. You can discover what it is during the auction by looking down at the area where you'd enter the bid amount manually, or by referring to the chart above. Especially on larger-ticket items, it is often more than $1.

For example:

  • You place a bid on a guitar, posting a maximum price of $302.
  • At the time the bid closed, a guitar is currently selling for $300, and your bid comes back as not high enough.
  • The reason: the minimum increment is $5. That means the next bid would have to be at least $305 to win the auction.
  • The guitar ends up selling for $300, because your $302 bid was too low.

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eSnipe Servers

What happens to my bid if the eSnipe Web server goes down?

The most important job of Rovatron, eSnipe's scheduler, is placing bids at as close to your specified bid time as possible and it will do so even if the Web server itself goes down. eSnipe actually runs on several dedicated servers, which are fast computers with high-speed connections to the Internet. These computers run 24 hours a day except during a portion of eBay's scheduled maintenance periods from 1:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. Pacific Time. On the rare occasions that the eSnipe Web server goes down or you are not able to log in, chances are very high that Rovatron is still placing bids. Of course there's at tradeoff: it means that if the Web server is down and you are not able to log in, then you are not able to edit or delete bids either. Since most people would want their bids to continue being placed even if the Web server is down, we err on the side of continuing operation where possible, rather than halting all operation if only part of the site becomes unavailable.

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How do you ensure that your clock is synchronized with eBay's? After all, we're only talking a few seconds here. What if your clock is 7 seconds slower than eBay's and my snipe time is 5 seconds?

eSnipe synchronizes every 15 minutes to the U.S. Naval Observatory Master Clock and we assume eBay does too. eSnipe has never been more than 1 second off of eBay's time. You can verify this by comparing the email you get from Rovatron with the bid history on eBay.

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(Updated 2011-03-28 11:26 PDT)